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N4T Investigators: Fertility fraud in the works by Arizona Senate Panel

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TUCSON (KVOA) - People could soon have the right to sue for "Fertility Fraud", meaning fertility doctors who use their own sperm to impregnate women without their consent could face civil liability in Arizona.

This resulted of a News 4 Tucson investigation.

A former Tucson OB-GYN at Tucson Medical Center reportedly used his own sperm for a couple desperately wanting children.

Dev Sethi represents a mother and daughter who learned Dr. James Blute is the daughter's biological father. He was also the mother's doctor.

Just this week, the Arizona Senate panel unanimously passed Senate Bill 12-37.

"This is a good day for women in Arizona, and children of doctors who perpetrated fertility fraud."

In the Arizona Senate chambers Thursday, senators heard from two of the children who are now adults who they believe are children of Dr. James Blute.

Kristen Finlayson said she made the discovery when she purchased an over-the-counter DNA test.

She said her parents specifically wanted a Hispanic donor because dad Phil Salgado was Hispanic.

Blute assured them the donor was Hispanic.

"My mom and dad were desperate to have kids and she went to somebody who was in power position that was Dr. James Blute was head of obstetrics at TMC and he did this multiple times," Blute said. "I have 10 half-siblings so far."

Her brother, Aaron was also fathered by Blute. He was delivered by the doctor at TMC in 1983.

He said what was done to his mother was criminal.

"I don't believe he should, or anyone, hide behind a medical curtain when it comes to something like that," he said.

Also speaking to the senate panel was Jodi Mederia. She is known as the country's leading expert on fertility fraud.

"This legislation is needed to allow all parties who have been harmed to sue, particularity children who have been dismissed from suits against doctors in other cases," Merderia said.

Sen. Nancy Barto authored the bill and commended those who testified.

"You are acting on behalf of so many that have unknowingly taken advantage of in this way," Barto said. "It's got to stop."

Originally, the bill included making it a crime in states like California, Indiana, Texas, Florida and Colorado.

It was amended before the vote as a civil liability.

"This seems like it's a criminal act," Sen. Kirsten Engel of Tucson said. "I'm concerned that we are not necessarily identifying it as such still maybe that's something we can move forward separately."

The bill now goes before the full Senate for a vote then onto the House of Representatives.

Dev Sethi hopes Gov. Ducey will sign the bill into law by the end of the year.

Since our original story aired, numerous mothers and adult children have contacted Sethi telling him they also believe they were deceived by Dr. Blute.

Currently, there are several civil lawsuits pending in Pima County against Dr. Blute who reportedly is retired and living out of state.

Lupita Murillo

Lupita Murillo is an investigative reporter. She is part of the Digging Deeper team that uncovers important issues focusing on crime that affects the community.

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